Blackberry Scones

Every morning I drive through a tunnel to get to work.  Where I live, you pretty much have to drive across a tunnel or bridge at some point.

Luckily, my route is in the opposite direction of rush hour traffic.  I really am thankful because I hate getting stuck in the tunnels.

Every morning I smile, because I’m not stuck in 7 mile back up leading to the tunnel.  Usually at that point I have “Schadenfreude” from Avenue Q running through my head.  A little cruel, I know.  But I’m thankful it’s not me because occasionally I do get stuck behind an accident in the tunnel and then all I can do is wait. (more…)


Simple, Flaky Biscuits

Sorry for my absence here.  Life got busy and hectic.

I’ll go into the past 2 months in more depth over the next few posts.  For now let’s just start with biscuits.

Homemade biscuits are actually quite simple to make.  And boy do they wow people when you pull out a fresh batch and respond: “Why yes, they are homemade.  Now try not to eat them all in one sitting.”

This recipe is easy to adapt.  Add a bit of cheddar for a great match for chili.  Serving it with chicken soup, add some herbs for extra flavor.  Or just make these biscuits plain and enjoy with a bit of jam.

So want to know the secret to making awesome simple biscuits?


Blueberry Muffins

The first thing I baked in our new apartment were these Blueberry Muffins.

Just look at that blueberry juice, it seeps into the muffin adding to the melt in your mouth texture.  They are perfect for a summer morning, warm and gooey.  The blueberries are little surprises of juicy flavor.  The tart berries are accented by the browned butter, there isn’t much sweetness to them but plenty of flavor.

Before the baking begins.  Look at that brown color, it’s the browned butter. Yum.

Fresh out of the oven.  A little over done, still getting use to the new oven, but still delicious.


Homemade Pizza

Sorry I’ve been MIA for over a week.  A little thing called tech week happened.  And I had to tell my kitchen “I can’t.  It’s tech.”

For those of you non-theatre folk out there tech is short for technical performance.  It’s the time when all the elements come together.  The actors get on stage, lights and sound cues are written, set changes are fine tuned.  In many theatres this process only lasts a week or less.  “I can’t. It’s tech.” is an understood excuse for almost anything when you work in theatre.

So apologize for the lack of posting.  Homemade pizza is my apologetic offering.

The dough is soft and chewy.  Topped with creamy mozzarella and spicy tomato sauce.  Make one with someone you love, or someone you want to impress.  Even if you don’t get it quite right there’s something about homemade pizza that’s better than any delivery or frozen recipe.

Oh and spring for real mozzarella cheese, trust me on this one.

Pizza Dough

1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F-115°F)*
2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar

*If the temperature of the water is below 105°F the yeast won’t activate, hotter than 115°F and the yeast will be killed.

In a small bowl mix the yeast and the warm water.  Let sit at least 5 minutes, you’ll see bubbles forming.  In a large bowl mix flour, olive oil, salt, sugar and water/yeast mixture.  Turn out onto a well floured surface and kneed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.

At this point extra dough can be frozen.

Remove plastic wrap and punch dough down.  Divide dough into 2 balls.  Place each in it’s own bowl, cover, let rest 10 minutes.  Turn dough out onto well floured surface.  With lightly oiled hands, start at the center working outwards, flatten the dough down to 1/2 inch.  Stretch dough.  Let relax 5 mintues. Stretch dough.  Repeat relaxing and stretching until pizza dough is 10-12 inches in diameter.  Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal and transfer dough.  Top with sauce and toppings.  Bake in a 450°F oven for 10-15 minutes or until dough is browned and cheese is golden.  Enjoy!

Scones for a Rainy Day

Waking up to a gray, rainy day just makes me want to curl up with a warm cup of coffee, yarn and just hide away until the sun comes out again.  Since I have no desire to venture out I set myself the task of making Strawberry Scones.  Utilizing a basic scone recipe I substituted fresh diced strawberries for the currants called for in the cookbook.Fresh out of the oven then look inviting, pieces of strawberries peaking out from behind a coating of crumbly dough.

Light, flaky, crisp dough holds little pockets of moist, flavorful strawberry.  An excellent treat with coffee or tea.

Peanut Butter Ginger Muffins

Ever since I saw this recipe I’ve been longing to try them.  Almost a month ago I had stumbled across some crystallized ginger in the Asian aisle in the grocery store and had to get a box.  R tried some straight from the box and decided it was not for light snacking, as the ginger was more concentrated than when it’s fresh, but agreed that it would add a zing when baked with.

While they were baking the peanut butter and ginger filled the kitchen with a rich, spicy, toasting scent.  The taste even better.  The peanut butter provides a hearty taste will the ginger added spice.  A good breakfast if you have an upset stomach but still want to start the day off right.  I wouldn’t make anything larger than a regular muffin size, since the ginger is quite strong.  They are a nice muffin to wake up to when you want flavor without much sweetness.

Beignets & Cinnamon Rolls

Yesterday for Fat Tuesday K made beignets.  They turned out fluffy, crisp on the outside and still soft on the inside.  Covered in powdered sugar they were a sweet treat.  After making two batches of them there still was a lot of dough left, so back into the fridge it went with plans for this morning.

This morning the dough was rolled out again.  Instead of cutting it into squares and dropping it into hot oil it was coated in cinnamon, brown sugar, flour and butter; then rolled into a tube.  The tube was cut into 12 pieces and placed on a baking sheet.  Instead of brushing the pieces with half and half I used white mocha creamer that was in the fridge.  The creamer also was added to powdered sugar and vanilla to make a glaze.

Once out of the oven these giant rolls filled the apartment with a warm cinnamon scent.  And the taste was even better, sweet but still savory, the dough was crisp on the outside and softer the closer in to the center.  The filling rich, and the glaze a little indulgent.  Overall a huge success, the dough recipe is versatile for two treats if not more.

Baba Ganoush & Pita

R got me a Jewish Cookbook and so I decided to give a few recipes a go.  I wanted something healthy, light, and delicious so we decided to go for baba ganoush, kabobs, pita and an apricot mousse to finish off the meal.

This cookbook is definitely a keeper, even for non-kosher households.  All the recipes have fairly short ingredient lists and utilize the natural flavors of the ingredients by accenting the meats, fruits, and vegetables with spices and herbs.  Most of the recipes also are most healthy than other styles of cooking.

R made lamb kabobs with a yogurt sauce while I made the baba ganoush and pita bread.  The recipe said to cook the eggplant at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a knife pierces it easily.  After 35 minutes I took it out, the knife did get a little resistance piercing it so next time I plan on leaving it in longer.  The rest of the process was easy, just chopping up vegetables and pureeing in a blender.

Meanwhile I had mixed the dough and was letting it rise.  The bread turned out fluffy on the inside and hard on the outside, with a nice crack when it was split.  It seems the less the dough it handled when forming into the pitas the better it turned out.

The apricot mousse was very simple, and so delicious.  It is very sweet, but in a natural sweetness (no sugar was added).  The apricots provided a rich, luxurious flavor to the light texture of the mousse.  R and I only had a few bites, but I kept grabbing another spoonful every time I opened the fridge throughout the night.

Overall it was a delicious and tasty dinner that filled us up and yielded lots of leftovers!

Pumpkin Chai Muffins

For our most recent designer run (the rehearsal run that the designers and show staff attend to see the show before we move into tech) I made two types of muffins.  One of the cast members is a vegan and our director is following a gluten-free diet so I decided to try out a Bittersweet recipe.  I did not know where to get persimmons, so I substituted pumpkin instead and altered a few other things.  They came out looking amazing, something you would find at a corner coffee shop along side espressos and lattes.  The crumbly muffins were excellent paired with tea or coffee, the spice gave them a little kick and were savory more than sweets.  Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin Chai Muffins

1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
3 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Packed
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Cups Soy Flour (or All Purpose for non-gluten-free)
1/2 Cup Chopped Hazelnuts
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Instant Coffee Powder
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
3/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
Pinch Salt

6 Teaspoons Granulated Sugar, for Topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, oil, vinegar, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, hazelnuts, baking soda, coffee, spices, and salt.  Combine the wet ingredients into the dry, stir.  Don’t thoroughly stir, just until a few lumps remain.

Distribute the batter in greased muffin tins and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Then enjoy!